Sukumar v. City of San Diego 

A plaintiff in a Public Records Act case may be the prevailing party and thus entitled to an award of attorney fees, even if a final judgment eventually dismisses the action—so long as the action was the catalyst for the defendant’s provision of the requested records.  Following Belth v. Garamendi (1991) 232 Cal.App.3d 896, this…

Mountain Air Enterprises, LLC v. Sundowner Towers, LLC

An affirmative defense based on a contract is not “an action or proceeding brought” to enforce that contract for purposes of the contract’s attorney fee clause.  This decision holds that an attorney fee clause which provides for a fee award in “any action or proceeding brought” to enforce the contract does not apply if the…

Shames v. Utility Consumers’ Action Network

Employee who prevailed in suit for nonpayment of wages or benefits was not entitled to an attorney fee award under Labor Code 218.5 because his complaint did not clearly seek a fee award under that statute.  Labor Code 218.5 allows an award of attorney fees to the prevailing party in a suit for nonpayment of…

Monster, LLC v. Superior Court

If a party seeks a contractual attorney fee award as an adjunct to a judgment, the court determines the fee award on motion after entry of judgment; but if the party instead seeks attorney fees as an item of damage in a suit on the contract, the claim is an ordinary contract claim on which…

Save Our Heritage Organisation v. City of San Diego

Project proponent cannot recover private attorney general fees under Code of Civil Procedure section 1021.5 because plaintiff did not act contrary to the public interest in bringing the unsuccessful suit alleging violation of various environmental protection laws. Following Adoption of Joshua S. (2008) 42 Cal.4th 945, this decision denies a private attorney general fee award…

Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. v. Haeger

Exercising its inherent power, a federal court may award attorney fees as a sanction; however, unless criminal contempt procedures are followed, the sanction cannot exceed the amount of attorney fees the opposing party would not have incurred but for the sanctionable conduct.  Federal courts have inherent power to sanction parties or their attorneys for conduct…

Irvine Unified School Dist. v. K.G.

Minor who prevailed on administrative action to assure his right to a free and appropriate education under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act was considered a prevailing party for purposes of subsequent lawsuit filed by school district which sought to force other public entities to pay for his education.  After KG was released from juvenile…

Walent v. Commission on Professional Competence

Unless it expressly provides otherwise, a statute granting a right to an attorney fee award contemplates a fee calculated by the lodestar method, whether or not the party seeking the fee award was personally liable to pay the attorney.  Unless it otherwise provides, a statute granting a right to an attorney fee award contemplates a…

Gonzalez v. Santa Clara County Department of Social Services

The trial court abused its discretion in denying fees to three of plaintiff’s four lawyers because their time records were not properly authenticated, an objection the defendant did not raise.  The trial court abused its discretion in refusing to award any attorney fees to three of the four lawyers who successively represented plaintiff in her…

Leighton v. Forster

Since a non-contingent contract for attorney fees between a lawyer and client must be in writing and signed by both parties in order to be enforceable, agreement which client never executed was not enforceable, and the statute of limitations had already passed on a quantum meruit action by the lawyer.  Under B&P Code 6148, a…

Gonzales v. Carmax Auto Superstores, LLC

If a plaintiff seeks only injunctive relief and prevails, he can recover attorney fees under the Consumer Legal Remedies Act despite not having given the notice and opportunity for cure which the Act requires before the plaintiff may recover damages.  Benson v. Southern Cal. Auto Sales (2015) 239 Cal.App.4th 1198 held that notice and an…

Khan v. Shim

When a contract’ attorney fee clause is broad enough to cover tort as well as contract claims, the defendant is the prevailing party entitled to a fee award on the tort, but not the contract, claims when the plaintiff voluntarily dismisses the action before trial.  Under Civ. Code § 1717(b)(2), there is no prevailing party…